Sculpture Garden Is A Good Fit With Hospital’s Mission

December 9, 2010

in News

Oncology patients at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center are benefiting from the generosity of an area man whose sculpture garden is a place of contemplation and personal healing.
The owner of the Path of Life Garden in Windsor has offered free admission for patients receiving cancer treatment. According to Maggie Moore, oncology nurse, a trip there gives a welcome respite: “It allows them to heal a little and look at their life beyond the cancer,” she said.
The sculpture garden is the creation of Terry McDonnell, a child and family therapist from Norwich. Art and nature interact in unexpected ways in its 14 acres of open fields.
On a recent fall afternoon, Moore and Dr. Letha Mills, oncologist at Mt. Ascutney Hospital, visited the garden and thanked McDonnell for the gift. Mills praised the beauty of the location and Moore called it “a great place of healing for our patients.”
She said several had already taken up McDonnell on his offer. “They all loved it,” said Moore. One wrote that she visited the garden on a glorious fall day, and saw a hawk soar overhead as she took in “the beauty of the landscape and the intrigue of the sculptures.” She’d been there twice, once before her mastectomy and a week after her chemotherapy treatment. “Each time it’s been wonderful,” she wrote.
McDonnell has spent 15 years tending this garden, which was inspired by a famous Japanese garden in Kildare, Ireland, called “The Life of Man.” The trails in Windsor lead to a stone labyrinth, a hemlock maze, driftwood sculptures playing musical instruments, a 50-foot tall bamboo circle, gardens of blueberries and raspberries, and more. Various areas represent stages of life, from birth to death and beyond.
For cancer patients at Mt. Ascutney Hospital, the sculpture garden fits in well with the department’s philosophy of offering services in addition to medical treatment. Patients in the oncology unit are offered massage and special nutrition counseling, and can benefit from services at the nearby Healing Arts Clinic, where practitioners provide a variety of complementary and alternative therapies. A “Look Good … Feel Better” program offers cosmetic and beauty tips for use during cancer treatments.
Although it has not been heavily promoted, the sculpture garden draws about 3,000 visitors a year, from playful children to others who might take its messages more deeply, such as those confronting serious disease.


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